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SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

Syllabus

UNITED STATES v. CONTAINER CORPORATION OF AMERICA ET AL.

393 U.S. 333

APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA.

No. 27. Argued November 18, 1968 -- Decided January 14, 1969

Appellees account for about 90% of the shipment of corrugated containers from plants in the Southeastern United States. From 1955 to 1963 the industry expanded in the Southeast (entry into the industry is easy), although capacity had exceeded demand, and the price trend had been downward. The product is fungible, demand is inelastic, and competition is based on price. Each appellee, upon request by a competitor, would furnish information as to the most recent price charged or quoted to individual customers, with the expectation of reciprocity and with the understanding that it represented the price currently being bid. This was not done on a regular basis, as often the data were available from appellees' records or from customers. The exchange of price information stabilized prices though at a downward level. The Government's civil complaint charging a price-fixing agreement in violation of 1 of the Sherman Act was dismissed by the District Court after trial.

Held:

1. The reciprocal exchange of price information was concerted action sufficient to establish the combination or conspiracy ingredient of 1 of the Act. P. 335.

2. The price stabilization which resulted from the exchange of price data had an anticompetitive effect in the corrugated container industry, chilling the vigor of price competition. Pp. 336-338.

273 F.Supp. 18, reversed.

Mr. Justice Douglas delivered the opinion of the Court.

Mr. Justice Fortas, concurring.

Mr. Justice Marshall, with whom Mr. Justice Harlan and Mr. Justice Stewart join, dissenting.


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